"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday 10 October 2014

UKIP's policies

Whilst watching Question Time last night I found myself exasperated that once again we were seeing a UKIP candidate on the panel -  a party with no MP's at that time, whereas the Green party, with Members of Parliament continued to be shafted by the what should be an impartial BBC.

I found myself asking once again what were these other UKIP policies - so we all know they want us out of the EU to stop free movement of people, but what are their views on other issues? BBC has provided info on other UKIP policies but they're just as non-sensical as the EU exit one.

UKIP proposes to leave the EU, but retain trading links, whilst withdrawing from treaties, not paying membership fees and they claim this would be similar to the relationship with the EU had by Norway and Switzerland.  Their primary concern here seems to stem from reducing EU workers moving to the UK.

Let's be clear. Free movement of people is as much a pillar of the EU as free movement of goods and services.  So if we are to retain our trade links, so must we free movement of people.  We cannot despite UKIP's hoodwinking attempt, have one without the other.

Norway whilst not a member of the EU, is a member of the European Economic Area. Which means it pays about half the membership fees into the EU as we do, but it still must accept the treaties, including free movement of people.  It just doesn't have a say in what the treaties are!  Our stance changing to be like Norway will not deliver what the bulk of UKIP's supporters think they will get with more power to UKIP.

Switzerland is neither a member of the EU nor the EEA, but it does have bilateral agreements with the EU.  So just as a French, Norwegian or Polish person can move to the UK to live and work here, so can a Swiss - and similarly, a British person can go to France, Norway, Poland or Switzerland.

There's also no mention of the fact that goods and services are cheaper for us because of the EU and the resulting increased competition.  Imagine no Polish plumbers. Don't you think a British plumber will then charge more? Basic supply-demand theory.

I did try and explain this to Nigel Farage, whilst speaking with him last year after a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared, however Nigel refused to believe that an exit from the EU whilst retaining membership of the EEA would not stop free movement of people.   

I wholeheartedly feel UKIP made these grand claims of what they could achieve because they don't believe there will ever come a point when they would need to deliver.  Else why is it that with seemingly the entire purpose of UKIP being to stem free movement of people they don't understand the very basic mechanics.  

Mass uncontrolled immigration - statistics please!  Where are the lack of controls when thousands of British citizens are prevented from being with their family, only because their husband, wife, mum or dad is not British?  When someone earning £18,599 is unable to have his wife join him in the UK because he is just £1 short of the dont-get-me-started £18,600 income level.

What does UKIP mean by a freeze on immigration for permanent settlement? Would we for a five year period, issue no ILR to people who have already been living here for over five years, or do they mean put in a five year waiting period before someone is granted ILR - which in fact is already the case for almost all visas that I can think of except adult dependant relatives (to which the door is slammed shut anyway) so UKIP is not promising anything new.

New arrivals to the UK already have no recourse to public funds for five years - which prevents their accessing ppublic housing or benefits - so again nothing new from UKIP here.  The execption is EU citizens - who must be treated the same as British citizens, just as British citizens are treated as locals by other member states. If the proposal was you have to have paid tax here for five years before accessing benefits - whether you are a British citizen or not, then this requirement could also be imposed on fellow EU citizens.  However this is not what UKIP states - they state they want this restriction to apply only to migrants - which it already does!

A single rate of income tax.  I think I might cry.  The whole point of a progressive tax system, as we have in the UK - whereby income is divided into bands, and the income which falls into the higher bands is taxed at a higher rate, is to redistribute income from higher-earners to lower-earners.  A flat rate of tax will mean tax revenue will drop and the people who will benefit from this the most, are the higher-earners, not Joe Bloggs!  This is an incredibly stupid proposal that will widen the divide between the rich and the poor.

That the uber-rich manage to avoid tax is another issue and I'd love to hear more from all parties on how they will tackle that.

I'm not against grammar schools actually so this proposal doesn't offend me so much - except I would like to know how UKIP believes it can fund student grants as opposed to student loans?

Proposal to hand control of NHS to locally elected County Health Boards - this would result in a huge variation in level of service amongst countries; inflated salaries paid to more people, and dare I say, corruption, inefficiencies, and lack of responsbiility.  How will this be funded?

UKIP wants to increase defence spending and build more warships. Sigh.  Where is the money coming from please?

Energy and climate change
UKIP is openly sceptical over the concept of climate change altogether. UKIP wants to scrap any increntives for renewable energy, cancel wind farm developments ad expand fracking and nuclear power stations.

Oh my goodness me.  The importance of increasing our usage of renewable sources of energy, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, was something I learned about in science at the age of 12. It's just common sense. Work with nature, not against it.  If UKIP thinks fracking and nuclear power stations are the way to go, let's start these in the areas UKIP candidates and supporters live in and hear the loud cries of 'not in my backyard'.

It's this policy which makes Clacton-on-Sea's vote last night for UKIP particularly bemusing as mentioned in this tweet.

Gay marriage
UKIP is all for civil partnerships, hurrah, but opposes gay marriage because churches should be able to decide for themselves who they will or will not marry.  As far as I'm aware, this decision is up to the local priest (or equivalent in other religions).  Frankly who'd want a reluctant party to preside over their marriage anyway?

Law and order
UKIP wants to double prison places, enforce zero tolerance and protect frontline policing.

Doubling of prison places - how? Where is the land to do this and where will the funds come from? What do they mean by zero tolerance? Is there nothing for which community service would suffice? What are their thoughts on rehabilitation to reduce recurrences?

Ah here is the answer to my question. Sort of.  UKIP says the tens of billions of tax cuts will be funded by cuts to public expenditure to deal with the deficit.  Questions
1) Are the cuts to fund the tax cuts or to eliminate the deficit? It can't be both as the numbers don't add up.
2) Where will the cuts be? Prisons and defence would see a rise in expenditure under UKIP.  UKIP has already aired their wanting cuts to tax, including council tax.  What's left? Schools, NHS, roads, welfare benefits....

Thank goodness Bank of England has a mandate to operate independently of political motives, else we'd just see our currency depreciate with wheelbarrows filled with money used to buy bread and milk from orders of printing money to pay for increased expenditure.

Social issues
UKIP isn't a fan of multiculturalism - how many people do you know who have family members hailing from a different part of the world to themselves?  Has this not enriched their life?

UKIP also wants to allow smoking in pubs and bring back hunting.  Yes, this really is progress to them.

UKIP wants more local and national referendums on 'major issues'.  Referendums are expensive. Who will pay for these and what does UKIP consider to be 'major issues'?

Why UKIP so badly wants to get into Westminster I don't understand given they already are known for not particpating in votes in European parliament depiste being MEP's. Perhaps they just want yet another role they get paid for not turning up to.

I urge anyone voting in May 2015, to question the promises made by the parties - whatever your political affiliation. Ask - will they be able to deliver this promise, and if so how? What resources are required? Where will the funding come from? What areas will consequently see a cut? What happens if this promise is not fulfilled? Ask. Ask out loud, ask the candidate directly, ask on twitter - discuss with your friends, family, colleagues. Use your education and learn to question. Remember politicians are paid to represent us. Ensure they do.


  1. The current government can't control EU movement of people so they hammer non-EEA movement of people - this is exactly what is happening. An EU resident with a criminal record, no English ability, can even be of retired age(!) - can come to the UK and contribute little to nothing to the country while using its services and infrastructure for free. Compare that to the millions of hoops a family that consists of 3 British nationals (citizens) and one non-EEA. We all know the hoops (I've had to jump through them). Even if the HO make an admin mistake, the Immigration Act of 2014 means you can't even appeal it in country.

    There needs to be a balance.

    Other countries manage it better than the UK by far (Canada, Australia, NZ as examples).

    1. Andrew, I understand your disdain of UK's family immigration rules. They have caused too much damage to families.

      It is likely that in their tunnel vision targetting net migration the government attacks migrants from outside the EEA because they can't do very much about people moving here from other Member States. This is exactly the same as France, Spain, Portugal or Poland for example not being able to do much to hinder British citizens wishing to live there, be it to work, study or retire. Note, it's a two way street.

      However migrants from wherever in the world, including other EU citizens, dont have a free pass into the UK if they have a criminal record. UK has discretion to hinder free movement on grounds of public policy, security and health.

      I also must correct you - most EU citizens who come to the UK are of working age - they work, pay taxes and being younger and healthier, tend not to use NHS much. It is in fact British pensioners who are moving to other member states in retirement. Which makes sense. Why would someone choose to retire in the UK if they can do so in warmer climes?

      The hoops that British citizens with foreign family members must jump through are ridiculous. The key to this is to lobby and campaign (initially through your MP) to have fairer rules in place here - irrespective of what the rules for EU citizens are. We can say we should not be treated less favourably than other EU citizens, but care needed here as what we want is for our rights to be levelled up, not those of EU citizens to be brought down, as even if possible that leaves everyone worse off.

      Our government and politicians are shafting us because they can. The EU is actually our saviour - it's what has stopped UK making things even worse for British citizens who have a family member from outside the region and it is also what for many has represented the only viable means of family reunification. As you picked up, UK has removed appeal rights - but only for those applying under UK rules. They cannot do so for applications made under EEA regulations - though I have no doubt, if the UK didnt have to answer to the EU, we'd lose those rights as well.

      Australia has a zero income requirement for partners/spouses of its residents and citizens, Australia encourages older relatives of its citizens to actually move to Oz when they're healthier and younger - unlike the UK which has closed the door shut on this, with the relative required to be on their death bed and in such poor health that they cant travel before there is even a slight consideration for their being able to be looked after by British relatives in the UK.

      If you hear of any politician suggesting we emulate Australia's immigration policy see if you can get them to confirm on record their and their party's commitment to also therefore emulating Australia's family immigration policies. Without such a commitment and actual implementation, words are hollow. Suggesting we leave the EU is foolish as it leaves us in danger of having no means of family reunification - even exile often means some family being left in the UK others living in another country, far away.

      Politicians need to put their money where their mouth is - leaving the EU (which my personal view is a silly thing to do as its benefits go way beyond those of free movement of people, but thats another dicussion) without fair rules in place is not something I would trust our politicians with. They, from whatever party, dont have a great track record of following through on their promises.

      In recent days I have heard more of UKIP wanting to increase spending in some parts and cutting revenue elsewhere. The question they must answer is how they plan on funding this. More from less is not possible.

      Everything from UKIP is so incredibly wishy washy it concerns me that even a small % of our population can't see them for them what they are - at best misguided and naive, at worst con artists falsely promising to conjure up more, from less.

  2. Thanks for your long response, Sonel.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the numbers of EU citizens coming into the UK has shaped the incumbent government's non-EEA immigration policy. In fact, the government have explicitly said this. They have literally stated that they "have non-EEA immigration targets met" because they can't control EEA immigration. It's not a coincidence that as immigration has increased to the UK over the last 5 to 7 years, the government has now in the last 3 years or so tightened immigration rules for those they can control rules for.

    To me, everything else is a side issue. The UK has limited infrastructure to support an increasing population. Therefore, the government will become evermore Draconian with non-EEA individuals in the future as a countermeasure to EEA immigration.

    I do think it's incredibly unfair that families go through hell and pay literally £10s of thousands in legal fees and have enormous stress and can still lose a tribunal case, but another family doesn't even need a visa to enter. There is no balance whatsoever. Sensible immigration should strive for a middleground between these two examples - it's fair for everyone, and it also allows a government to have a better control over its immigration policy - which all countries need (of course).

    I say all of this as someone who has been through the mill with the Home Office. I know every trick they try to kick out the family of a British citizen.

    By the way, I 100% agree it's a two way street. I'd be disgusted if a British family could settle in Spain (for example), and then in another case a Spanish woman marries a Japanese man and she finds she can't settle in her home country because of stupid rules. In that example, I honestly think the Spanish woman should have a stronger case to settle in Spain than the British family (all things being equal). After all, she likely has family ties in her home country, speaks the language, has already likely contributed lots to her home country in taxes and work, and absolutely has a right to settle her Japanese husband in her home country, completely unhindered. To me, that is fair. It's not saying to the British family - "you cannot enter". I am just saying that in my example, the Spanish government would have a right to have reasonable requirements for the British family to settle - a points system, like most countries have.

    No country can have a "freedom of movement" for all countries - this would be unworkable. Can you imagine if Australia said "freedom of movement for all countries - you can come here without a visa, work, collect pension etc". Yet it occurs in the EEA, and it's caused massive problems for non-EEA individuals and their families.

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  4. Andrew, I'm only just seeing your response so apologies for the delay. Even in the extreme case of stopping free movement there is no pledge from the anti-EU politicians as to what they will change the family immigration rules to. I have time and time again asked Farage, that in replicating Australia's immigration, does he also mean their family immigration - which for partners has ZERO income requirement. Only response is that UKIP is referring to the skilled migration replication (which by the way in the UK is pretty tough anyway).